Who is she?

Alexandra Cornwall, 21, is an adventurous, spontaneous, passionate, mellow and wary senior from Bristol, R.I. majoring in international relations and the Middle East. Cornwall has been actively involved with the River Campus Medical Emergency Response Team since freshman year, enjoyed two great years with Off Broadway On Campus and participated in a few Drama House productions. Cornwall is adding a new activity to her plate by starting the Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness, SADACA – an acronym which means “friendship” in Arabic. SADACA held a general interest meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. in the Ruth Merrill Center and was followed by a discussion on the controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

What inspired you to start this group?

“I studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt and Damascus, Syria for seven months last year and when I returned home, all I wanted to do was show people what an amazing place the Middle East is. Americans have become so caught up in media and governmental portrayals of the region, the “war on terror,” Islamic extremists and the Arab-Israeli Conflict that we never see just how rich the culture is. It’s comprised of one of the oldest histories, numerous religions, beautiful languages with various dialects and most importantly, amazing people.

“I became very frustrated with the basic lack of knowledge and the misconceptions people have of the region and starting a club seemed the best way for me to help show people the richness of the Arab world. I was hesitant to start a club my senior year because I don’t have the time or energy to do it on my own and didn’t know of anyone else who shared my passion. I happened to share my thoughts with Andrea Gluckman, one of my professors, and she said she would be thrilled to co-sponsor the club with me. That was all the push I needed.”

What do you hope to achieve with your group?

“The mission of SADACA is to promote awareness of the culture, history, religions and languages of the Arab world. We want to educate the community about the true beauty of the region from which we only see violence and hatred on TV. We want to put out the information to eliminate those common misconceptions, answer any questions and encourage those who want to learn more or travel to the region to do so.

“We’re planning on hosting speakers, discussions, debates, presentations, films, language classes and several other activities. I think it’s important to explain what SADACA is not. It’s not religiously or politically affiliated.”

Woo can be reached at mwoo@campustimes.org.

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